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Shortlisted for the 2018 Lincoln Prize Previous biographies of Abraham Lincoln—universally acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents—have typically focused on his experiences in the White House. In Becoming Lincoln, renowned historian William Freehling instead emphasizes the prewar years, revealing how Lincoln came to be the extraordinary leader who would guide the nation through its most bitter chapter. Freehling’s engaging narrative focuses anew on Lincoln’s journey. The epic highlights Lincoln’s difficult family life, first with his father and later with his wife. We learn about the staggering number of setbacks and recoveries Lincoln experienced. We witness Lincoln’s famous embodiment of the self-made man (although he sought and received critical help from others). The book traces Lincoln from his tough childhood through incarnations as a bankrupt with few prospects, a superb lawyer, a canny two-party politician, a great orator, a failed state legislator, and a losing senatorial candidate, to a winning presidential contender and a besieged six weeks as a pre-war president. As Lincoln’s individual life unfolds, so does the American nineteenth century. Few great Americans have endured such pain but been rewarded with such success. Few lives have seen so much color and drama. Few mirror so uncannily the great themes of their own society. No one so well illustrates the emergence of our national economy and the causes of the Civil War. The book concludes with a substantial epilogue in which Freehling turns to Lincoln’s wartime presidency to assess how the preceding fifty-one years of experience shaped the Great Emancipator’s final four years. Extensively illustrated, nuanced but swiftly paced, and full of examples that vividly bring Lincoln to life for the modern reader, this new biography shows how an ordinary young man from the Midwest prepared to become, against almost absurd odds, our most tested and successful president.
Becoming Abraham Lincoln: The Coming of Age of Our Greatest President tells the true story of how this great American hero grew up and became a man. The story begins with Lincoln’s cousin describing the murder of Abe’s grandfather in 1782 by the Wabash Indians in the Kentucky wilderness. It ends as Lincoln turns twenty-five, downcast and debt-ridden after the failure of his first business venture, as he earns his first election victory to take his seat in the Illinois State Legislature. This vivid, authentic account of Abraham Lincoln in his formative years is told by those who were there—his friends and family. Supported by rigorous research, Becoming Abraham Lincoln is an authentic account of Lincoln’s childhood and adolescence in the actual words of those who knew him best. We see Lincoln as he was, according to law partner Billy Herndon, “just as he lived, breathed, ate and laughed in this world.” The historic eyewitness testimony in these pages forms a rich, detailed narrative unmatched in all Lincoln literature.
To fully understand and appreciate Abraham Lincoln's legacy, it is important to examine the society that influenced the life, character, and leadership of the man who would become the Great Emancipator. Editors Joseph R. Fornieri and Sara Vaughn Gabbard have done just that in Lincoln's America: 1809-1865, a collection of new and original essays by ten eminent historians that place Lincoln within his nineteenth-century cultural context. Among the topics explored in Lincoln's America are religion, education, middle-class family life, the antislavery movement, politics, and law. Of particular interest are the transition of American intellectual and philosophical thought from the Enlightenment to Romanticism and the influence of this evolution on Lincoln's own ideas. By examining aspects of Lincoln's life— his personal piety in comparison with the beliefs of his contemporaries, his success in self-schooling when frontier youths had limited opportunities for a formal education, his marriage and home life in Springfield, and his legal career— in light of broader cultural contexts such as the development of democracy, the growth of visual arts, the question of slaves as property, and French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville's observations on America, the contributors delve into the mythical Lincoln of folklore and discover a developing political mind and a changing nation. As Lincoln's America shows, the sociopolitical culture of nineteenth-century America was instrumental in shaping Lincoln's character and leadership. The essays in this volume paint a vivid picture of a young nation and its sixteenth president, arguably its greatest leader.
Presents a collection of essays that explore the importance and influence of Abraham Lincoln on the lives of the authors.
Perhaps more than any other American, Abraham Lincoln has become a global figure, one who spoke--and continues to speak--to people across the world. Karl Marx judged Lincoln "the single-minded son of the working class"; Tolstoy reported his fame in the Caucasus; Tomas Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, drew strength as "the Lincoln of Central Europe"; racially-mixed, republican "Lincoln brigades" fought in the Spanish Civil War; and, more recently, statesmen ranging from Gordon Brown to Pervez Musharraf to Barack Obama have invoked Lincoln in support of their respective agendas. This fascinating volume brings together leading historians from around the world to explore Lincoln's international legacy. The authors examine the meaning and image of Lincoln in many places and across continents, ranging from Germany to Japan, India to Ireland, Africa and Asia to Argentina and the American South. The book reveals that at the heart of Lincoln's global celebrity were his political principles, his record of successful executive leadership in wartime, his role as the "Great Emancipator," and his resolute defense of popular government. Yet the "Global Lincoln" has been a malleable and protean figure, one who is forever being redefined to meet the needs of those who invoke him. The first study of Lincoln's global legacy, this book tells the unknown and remarkable story of the world-wide impact of one of America's great presidents.
One hundred and fifty years after Abraham Lincoln's death, the full story of his extraordinary relationship with Jews is told here for the first time. Lincoln and the Jews: A History provides readers both with a captivating narrative of his interactions with Jews, and with the opportunity to immerse themselves in rare manuscripts and images, many from the Shapell Lincoln Collection, that show Lincoln in a way he has never been seen before. Lincoln's lifetime coincided with the emergence of Jews on the national scene in the United States. When he was born, in 1809, scarcely 3,000 Jews lived in the entire country. By the time of his assassination in 1865, large-scale immigration, principally from central Europe, had brought that number up to more than 150,000. Many Americans, including members of Lincoln's cabinet and many of his top generals during the Civil War, were alarmed by this development and treated Jews as second-class citizens and religious outsiders. Lincoln, this book shows, exhibited precisely the opposite tendency. He also expressed a uniquely deep knowledge of the Old Testament, employing its language and concepts in some of his most important writings. He befriended Jews from a young age, promoted Jewish equality, appointed numerous Jews to public office, had Jewish advisors and supporters starting already from the early 1850s, as well as later during his two presidential campaigns, and in response to Jewish sensitivities, even changed the way he thought and spoke about America. Through his actions and his rhetoric—replacing "Christian nation," for example, with "this nation under God"—he embraced Jews as insiders. In this groundbreaking work, the product of meticulous research, historian Jonathan D. Sarna and collector Benjamin Shapell reveal how Lincoln's remarkable relationship with American Jews impacted both his path to the presidency and his policy decisions as president. The volume uncovers a new and previously unknown feature of Abraham Lincoln's life, one that broadened him, and, as a result, broadened America.

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